What is Open Access?
Open Access is an international movement that advocates for free and open online access to academic content, such as journals, data, and research. The biggest advantage of open access is that it increases access to knowledge and academic content, gives more visibility to research and increases the reuse of published research results. Research, development, and innovation coming from developing countries stand to benefit from this, as it takes away the financial and legal costs that otherwise come from the intellectual property (IP) framework.
Watch: How unrestricted exchange of ideas fuel innovation?
The Berlin Declaration
The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities was signed in 2003 and was an important milestone in the movement for free access to knowledge.
It identified the Internet as an emerging functional medium for knowledge dissemination. The drafters of this declaration foresaw how the Internet could rise as a huge global and interactive repository of human knowledge. According to the declaration, “Our mission of disseminating knowledge is only half complete if the information is not made widely and readily available to society.”
Their aim of making human knowledge and cultural heritage open access was to make the future of the Web sustainable, interactive, and transparent.
Open Access and Intellectual Property
When information and data published on the Internet becomes open, it, often, and rightly so, raises the question of Intellectual Property being preserved. However, growth in developing countries in the era of Industrial Revolution 4.0 will only get stifled if there is no balance between intellectual property rights are not balanced against the sharing of education, information, ideas, research, and development data.
Today, the Internet is a large learning platform with a plethora of content across various paid and unpaid platforms and in a variety of forms – articles, podcasts, videos, classroom lessons, interactive online forums, e-books, journals, and research papers.
These platforms enable little children to learn to code or unleash their creativity, students to get help on their projects, unskilled people to learn new skills, and skilled professionals to re-skill and upskill based on market demand and skill gap.
Sign up on SkillUp, which is a one-stop-shop for those looking to upskill in the areas of Digital Skills, Business Analytics, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation.
Finding the Balance
IP is seen as a mark of innovation for any firm or economy. The number of patents, for example, increases the market value of a firm and is seen as an indicator of productivity.
The intellectual property of a person or a firm is valuable, thus, it is often protected under names of patent, trademark, copyright. However, with time, the different types of intellectual properties have increased and so have the legal complexities.
However, there are ways to balance IP management in a manner that innovation is not stifled, says Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. For instance, they suggest that patents not be too strong or too weak, as it either stifles innovation or results in sub-optimal innovation. They suggest it is best for companies or inventors to avoid broad patents as they are hindrances to growth, and that follow-on innovations should be encouraged to add value to existing big innovations.
Besides the issue of IP management, there are concerns about the cost incurred for research publication. Thus, there are different ways of publishing open access.
Full Open Access Journals: The cost of Article Processing Charges (APCs) are covered by the research authors/their institutions. They also get donations from research funders. Such journals are available on the DOAJ website.
Hybrid journals: These are subscription journals that allow open access upon payment of APCs by the authors. Some hybrid models are funded by institutions, libraries, or subsidy models.
Innovation and Learning
With the world undergoing a digital revolution, traditional learning has taken a backseat. In the grip of COVID-19, 90% of 1.57billion school children globally were out of school. Similarly, universities and research institutes also saw a disruption in the learning process because of the pandemic. In such cases, only open access would enhance knowledge sharing and strengthen the learning system. Invoking intellectual property in such cases would be an impediment to the learning and knowledge dissemination process.
Similarly, open access can also encourage innovations in the health sector. For instance, follow-on research and development on patented medicines or vaccines can help in finding alternate or cheaper treatments for developing or lower-income countries.
To learn more about more such interesting topics, sign up here!